Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Sharpest Sword

      As a child I toted around a beloved Bible given to me by my grandparents (mentioned in this post: The Treasure). Each summer I attended Vacation Bible School at their home church, The First Baptist Church of Opp, Alabama. It was a tradition that my sisters and I would travel from our home to stay with our grandparents during this week in June. VBS was something I looked forward to each year. I remember gathering outside the church in the warm early morning sunshine in my seersucker shorts outfit and sandals. We stood in rows assigned by age group and at the front of each line there was a banner. It was a honor to carry the banner into the sanctuary for the opening assembly.
     One of my favorite activities in VBS in addition to the crafts were the Bible Sword Drills. We would stand in a row with our swords -- the Word of God -- by our sides. The leader would call out a scripture and the first one to find the reference and read it aloud would earn a point. There is a part of me that loves competition so I was always trying to earn that point. But something else happened somewhere along the line...I not only learned where each of the 66 books of the Bible are located, but I also began to fall in love with the Word of God.
     I have not always been as faithful as I would have desired, but the sword of the Word has never failed me, not once. Over the years, I have learned from other wise women to literally pray the Word of God back to Him, as I remind him (tongue-in-cheek, of course) that these are His commands, His words, His ideas and He himself is the one who has said that He is faithful to His Word. It has made me feel close to Him and has opened up the door of communication that only comes when you spend extended time in the company of another.
    I am utterly convinced that prayer has been the key to open my eyes to understand my children's hearts and has been the reason that my husband and I are still finding joy in our 36-year marriage. For throughout the years I have been certain that my children and my husband were alien beings sent to my house for some unknown ulterior purpose. I have been baffled, perplexed, frustrated, confused, discouraged, disappointed, disgruntled, and angry with the whole lot of them. Fortunately this has usually not occurred with all of them at once, but in those years when we were all under the same roof, there was always someone on the hot seat. Someone, including me who needed prayer.
     I am not a stupid person. I consider myself relatively well educated, relatively intelligent, and relatively capable of being a decent parent and wife. Notice I said relatively. Some days I am downright awful and stink at any and every duty, job, or responsibility. Somedays I would like to run away from it all and hit the highway, but most of the time I manage to try. Yet there have been times in my marriage and in my parenting when, despite my best efforts (or perhaps because of them), I have hit the wall. I have faced issues, situations, responsibilities, circumstances, or whatever you want to call them that I could not surmount, or overcome, or for which I was so totally unprepared that I simply could not cope. Things so big or so hard that I did not think I would even survive. And many times I would hit that wall when I was running full speed ahead under my own steam (Is there not a lesson here somewhere?) I have always hated those walls. They force me to fall down or they knock me down (who knows which). I cannot get over the wall, and I cannot get around it. So what do I do? Once I determine that I am still actually breathing and still alive, I usually crawl to my Maker with my face in the dust and my body and soul covered with the mess. On my knees. To His sword. I go back to the only thing that I know has the power. I go back to the familiar. And it has never failed me. If I can't get over the wall, I fall on His sword, which has become my sword, the precious Word of God.

     Years ago when I was sure that my husband lay dying in a hospital recovery room, and I had to tell my children that the next 24 hours would be the most critical, I was so numb that I could not remember any of the scripture that I had memorized through the years. My mind was like some vacant lot overgrown with weeds. I was panicked. I remember that I took a deep breath outside the room before I went in to see my husband and I tried to pray. Nothing. My brain felt like marbles rolling around in a can. I cast around in my head for a scripture to stand upon and for the longest time, there was absolutely nothing. I grew desperate. I was afraid that I was losing my mind. After what seemed like forever, I finally heard the whisper in my soul, so soft and seemingly so incomplete. Over and over again the voice was saying , "The Lord is my shepherd." I thought okay, but where is the rest of the scripture? Where are the other verses that I had memorized in VBS as a child and could say backwards and forwards with my eyes open or closed. They were not there. No matter how hard I tried to remember, nothing else came. Not even the rest of the first verse of the Psalm: "The Lord is my shepherd ...I shall not want." The words had deserted me. Despite my prayers for assistance, I could not summon another single word of the famous 23rd Psalm. As the tears rolled down my face I wanted to scream. Yet all I heard again were those five words, "The Lord is my shepherd."

     It took me a long time to get it. It was a long drawn out recovery for my husband that lasted many many months and stretched out over two plus years. During that time I climbed mountains only to fall down once again into the miry pit of fear and desperation. Yet over and over again, I did find myself being lovingly carried to the still waters, and I knew much later that the Lord was not only healing my husband's body, He was making profound changes in me that would have ramifications for both of our lives. Five words. Five simple words. The opening lines of an incredible Psalm filled with power and promise. I did not get the rest then, but I finally got the beginning. The Lord is my Shepherd. Words to stand on. Words to live by. A sword that never fails.
     I barely heard Him over the clamor and confusion of my soul, but thankfully, I did. He was the Shepherd then. He is the Shepherd now. I am certain that I was able to hear exactly what the Ever Faithful One wanted me to hear. Five wonderful words. And I am so thankful to be a sheep of His fold. I might not be the most discerning or gifted sheep on the block, but I have the Most High God as my Shepherd and by His grace and His grace alone, I am still following Him. And golly, I hate to admit it -- I am still running into walls.


  1. So wonderful, sweet sister. And the magnificent WORDS He spoke to me on the night you shared the precious gift of eternal life with me in my sleep were, "I AM, that I AM!" As audible and plain as anything ever spoken to me! So filled with NEW life for one who was so wounded and devastated. We serve a wonderful Savior and will be forever "sisters".

  2. thank you kathy! i needed this post. please pray for me. i have some 'issues' that i can only have solved thru HIM.
    I love you, Deb


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